Growing up in Kotobabi, one of the worst tragedies that could befall anyone was to be caught red-handed, stealing. Especially at dawn. Most of us lived in compound houses which were not walled, so when a cry for help went out in the silence of dawn, neighbours could rally in minutes. Those were the days under the revolution when vigilante groups were recognised. Many of these groups were members of the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR). When a thief was caught, it was customary for him to be beaten mercilessly and escorted towards the big Alajo Gutter, which was more of a river than a gutter. It was that big. It had a distinctive smell too; years after, I can still smell it in my nostrils.
At the gutter, fortunate thieves got rescued by the police, who had to risk their lives to save these thieves. The unfortunate thieves got their home addresses changed to aquatic burial grounds. The treatment before the coup de grace varied in their gruesome creativity. Once, one guy got an enema of coal tar before being dispatched into glory. Or hell, to be more precise.
So, Akwesi Burger, a well-known criminal near the Maxwell Hotel area, considered himself lucky when he was rescued and sent to court, before being sentenced to ten years imprisonment with hard labour. One of those who really beat him up was Egya Nsiah, a painter. Akwesi never forgot him.
Ten years came quickly, and Akwesi was released from prison. On his way home, he came across Egya Nsiah painting the sides of a four-storey building. He looked up the ladder the painter was on and called out, loudly:
“Egya, I greet you!”
“Yaaaa nua!” Egya responded.
“Do you remember some years ago, a thief was caught near Nkansah Djan, and you were involved in getting him to the police?”
“Oh yes! I remember it like yesterday! I really beat him up to my heart’s desire! He should have even been killed, such people don’t deserve to like!”
Calmly, Akwesi held on the ladder and called out, “Well, I am that thief, and I never forgot how you thrashed me. Please find somewhere to stand, because I am taking this ladder away!”
In the name of Wofa Kapokyikyi who has the memory of an elephant and who says he can forgive, but never will forget, the man who says it as it is, I greet you.
It was Wofa who said that even though the bird flies and lives on a tree, when it dies its body comes back to earth.
In Form One in the school Osagyefo first built, the closest relative to The Wailers was a tall, fearsome senior of ours called Vandyke. For sure, his favourite expression was ‘Legalise it’! He who is in tune with the spirit of psychedelic delights will understand this.
One of the competencies that every junior needed to hone was the ability to run down the stairs from the top floor of the houses and exit the common room at the ground floor, hiding under the windows in front of the house to run across to the Academic areas without being spotted by the sharp eyes of those seniors who didn’t go out of their dormitories except when there was fun fair or scattey in the dining hall.
One day, one small boy ran down the stairs in Kwesi Plange House and didn’t turn back when Senior Vandyke bellowed his name. It was mid-terms and the boy wasn’t going to back into the dormitory for all the sopi in the dining hall! He knew if he did, he would end up being sent on errands the entire weekend.
As he ran off, Senior Vandyke chuckled and muttered to him, “Make you go! No bi mid-terms? Long vacation sef, they go a, they dey come back!”
The blessedness of time. Ah, the bosom of time disbosoms a tonne.
So it is that when people get into higher positions, they forget that the higher you are, the heavier you fall. But, time flies and even eight years come to pass, eventually.
Soon, both words and actions come full cycle. And the loss of power declutters the mind and descales the eyes.
Watch your words and actions, for soon, words and actions past answer the present. In other cases, words and actions present soon answer and judge the past.
I said once that the beautiful thing about patience and the bosom of time is that words used to put someone in his or her place today will be the same words that embarrasses or implicates the speaker tomorrow. Especially in this fast-paced world, time lap appears most microscopic.
Power has just changed in Sikaman and realignments are in progress. As the engine of the train exchanges places with the caboose, let the engine reflect and let the caboose-turned-engine learn that even long vac sef, they go a, they dey come.
Till I come your way again with another sebitical, I remain:
By: Nana Awere Damoah